How Much Physical Activity Is Necessary To Maintain Good Health?

Biking for fun and exercise

With our busy lives, physical activity can become quite low on our list of priorities. Some of the many excuses I hear are: I just don’t have time,” “I am too tired at the end of the day to work out,” “Do I really need exercise to maintain good health? and What are the health benefits? – I will address each and every one of these subjects.

1. Time: First of all, when things are important to us we make time. For example, eating, we may be very busy at work but we always seem to make time to go pick up food or make it ourselves when we are hungry. We run errands after work in order to make sure all the bills are paid and all of our groceries are restocked in our fridge. Why can’t we make time to work out?

2. Energy: One thing that may be surprising is the fact that exercise GIVES energy and does not TAKE it away. This is something many people don’t think about and could possibly be the very reason why they are so exhausted at the end of each day. Exercise releases endorphins that otherwise would not be there had we not worked out. Endorphins trigger a positive response in your body that can help ease the stress from your busy work day. The hardest part is usually getting started!

3. Let’s talk benefits: Exercise not only is known to contribute to an improvement in mental health but physical health as well, you should notice a difference after three weeks or so of exercise in your body and energy levels. Some people notice the benefits right away. For example, I notice that after each workout session I am much more alert and energized than I was before I stepped foot in the gym. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a minimum of three days per week in 60 minute sessions. These sessions can also be split into six days of 30 min sessions. I think everyone can agree they have at least 180 min of time during their work week. How about watching 180 min less of T.V. and using that time lifting weights or biking?

These 60 minutes of exercise can be any kind of workout you want it to be. Whether it be biking, running or swimming. These are all great forms of cardio training and can significantly improve your overall health. If you are suffering from any recent injuries, I would recommend swimming or the elliptical machine at the gym. If you’re in great health and feel up for it, running is a great total body workout. It’s great for your arms and abdomen and the physical benefits that result are better than most of the other cardiovascular options. If you are not fond of those options, walking is something that is extremely beneficial without putting additional stress on your joints. This is always a great alternative.

The many health benefits from physical activity include, decrease in heart disease, lower blood pressure, enhance insulin sensitivity, and the most important of all, weight management. Some of the psychological benefits include, decrease risk of a major depressive disorder, lower anxiety levels and as we discussed before, increase energy levels in an individual. Three 60 min sessions a week is a very reasonable amount of time to obtain these kind of results.

It may seem difficult to overcome the obstacles of time and energy, but if you schedule it into your day and realize it will boost your energy (not take it away) you can realize the many benefits of regular exercise!

Megan Lobe, Meritage Medical Network Internal Exercise and Health Blogger
Megan is in the Provider Relations Department at Meritage. She received her undergraduate education at Sonoma State University with a degree in Exercise Science. Megan played college tennis for three years during her 4 years at Sonoma State and has volunteered over 700 hours of her time in convalescent homes and physical therapy clinics in Rohnert Park and Sonoma County. Megan is currently working on her masters in Corrective Exercise and Orthopedic Rehabilitation. She plans to graduate the Spring of 2017 and obtain her board certification in Exercise Physiology.

Meritage Medical Network is a healthcare network representing our local physician members. We provide health care and administer benefits for HMO members in Marin, Napa, and Sonoma Counties. Our expert medical and administrative staff are dedicated to ensuring that you receive the highest quality health care available.

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